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Gronk the concept: math, drawing, whatever

Joanne picks up on life without math citing a popular YouTube video with a lady who didn’t understand what miles per hour meant. That links to Lynne on Why Tracking Needs to Be Brought Back in Math Classes.

“Teaching math is like teaching drawing skills …

“We all know of people who seem to have a natural ability as artists. Those without this natural, seemingly inborn, ability stand continually in awe of those who have it. We wonder how these natural artists are able to take pencil to paper and draw something that actually approximates reality, while we, ourselves, are stuck drawing stick figures, even as adults. This happened to me. Then, in my 20s I had an opportunity to take a short, six-session drawing course from a fantastic instructor who understood that drawing is a SKILL which CAN BE TAUGHT. In TWO HOURS, I went from drawing stick figures to drawing quite realistic portraits, and so did my other classmates.

How is this possible? I remember the feeling exactly. What happened was the teacher was able to show all of us a DIFFERENT WAY OF SEEING.”

Tracking is just the grouping of students by their needs and that gets into the modern diversity ideologies. Set that aside and consider the phenomena being offered here. Learning is about a new way of seeing things. Teaching is about enabling the vision to see old things in a new way.

The ’80 mph’ video cited provides a good case in point. The difficulty is in seeing the speed as a unique independent thing rather than a compound thing. For the mathematically oriented, it is obviously a compound thing in describing how many miles could be travelled in an hour. For the subject of the video, it is its own unique thing related, perhaps, to speed limit signs and a sense of speed like hair blowing in the slipstream and not at all connected with distance or time despite the words in the concept.

It is often very difficult for a teacher to realize that decomposition of phrases and words represents an education gap and bridging that gap can be difficult. This example is rather simple which is why the video was rather popular (people do like to feel superior to others, it seems). This gets into such things as Piaget’s developmental theory and why algebra follows arithmetic and why science in high school is often taught as a sequence of biology, chemistry, and then physics.

There was a movement to turn high school science sequence around as biology depends upon chemistry which depends upon physics. That is logical as far as dependencies goes but illogical when it comes to developing concepts. Basic biology can be taught as mostly descriptive. Chemistry needs algebraic thinking. Physics is why Newton (and Liebniz) developed calculus. The debate is really about whether high school is teaching subject matter or is more involved with cognitive development.

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